WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s upcoming visit to the US is likely to result in substantive progress on the civil nuclear deal and defense ties between the two countries.
National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, who was here to prepare the ground for the Prime Minister’s visit next month, however, refrained from revealing any further details of the expected outcome of the trip in the two crucial areas, noting that they are still a work in progress.
“It (defense ties) could be (path breaking). It is still a work in progress. But it is significant. Because the basic idea behind it is to move from a buyer-seller situation to actually co-developing, co-producing various defense acquisitions. And we do this together and that could involve technology transfer and working together at much higher levels of technology than we have so far,” Menon said yesterday at the end of his six-day US trip.
The White House and Menon yesterday simultaneously announced that Singh would be coming to Washington on a working visit on September 27 to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House.
Menon said the two countries have made considerable progress in various aspects of implementation of the main civil nuclear agreement.
“I would not get into the outcome of PM’s visit. We are still working. It is still a work in progress. The fact is that we will use this whole period to actually move forward on all aspects,” he said adding that building a nuclear reactor and nuclear power stations is a complex project.
“What you will see now is unfolding of a series of agreements, which gradually lead you to the big one to the actual construction of the reactor. So right now, what is being discussed is really the commercial aspect,” he said.
“NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India) is the operator who is buying nuclear power plant from Westinghouse, which has US certified reactor and discussing the detail of how they divide the work. What will Westinghouse do, what will NPCIL do and how to take it forward. So now it is really down to the commercial and technical details that’s the stage that it is at right now,” Menon said. Responding to questions on Indo-US bilateral relationship, Menon said he is not at all disappointed at the pace of the relationship.
“As far as I’m concerned, it is not disappointing. The relationship is growing and is growing in every area that we look at including trade and economy and will continue to grow,” he said.
“It is now a full spectrum relationship that brings everything from agriculture to industry to economy to trade, science and technology to security aspects like counter terrorism, to consultations on a whole range of regional and other issues, global issues,” he said.
“We actually have about 32 separate dialogues going on between India and the US at present, which gives you a sense of the range of the relationship and how broad it is,” Menon said. -PTI